Randy Rasmussen's most memorable Plan-B set design

Randy Rasmussen has designed nearly every Plan-B set, beginning with MACBETH in 1992. Most recently he designed lighting for the revival of GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL! and sets for SHE WAS MY BROTHER, MESA VERDE and BORDERLANDS. Efficient. Minimal. Sparse. These are the words that, if I am lucky enough, people use to describe my scenery. I hope they get that it isn’t always a budget choice that drives the look of Plan-B shows. The real goal is not always entertainment with big flashy sets. So how do we stimulate minds and create social change with shows? Movies provide easy, concrete images and they struggle when they need something more abstract. Theatre is just the opposite. If you let it, the abstract is so easy and the audience will do all the work. My hope is that by leaving things out, the audience immediately knows they have to engage their imaginations. When that happens it is so much easier for their emotions and heart to jump along for the ride. If the audience can become sympathetic with a character and they will leave with an entirely different perspective on the world. That’s all we do or at least that’s what we hope for. The shows I remember most are the ones that cost next to nothing. See, I believe that we create our reality by the dreams and choices we pursue. It’s not like I think someone can think themselves sick but I do think you might be able to think yourself less sick. Anyway. Sometimes I get to kinda stew with a project a while and stuff just kinda...

Teresa Sanderson's Most Memorable Plan-B Role

Teresa Sanderson has appeared in Plan-B’s Script-In-Hand Series, a slew of SLAMs, all but one RADIO HOUR, STAGE DIRECTIONS, ANIMAL FARM, TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY, THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, EXPOSED, DI ESPERIENZA and MESA VERDE. Pick my most memorable Plan-B role? I’m not sure how to do that. Each one has been a rich and rewarding experience. It is sort of like picking a favorite child. My history with Plan-B is long. I have made life long friends, and feel lucky to be part of the Plan-B family. There’s ANIMAL FARM (my kids’ favorite) and TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY (my husband’s favorite). I guess if I have to pick, I am going to have to say Mary Dickson’s EXPOSED, about the impact of nuclear testing on our state and our nation. To be part of telling Mary’s personal story, thousands of people’s story, as it turns out, was a great honor. It is a huge responsibility to play real people on stage. In EXPOSED I was excited and intimidated all at the same time. I knew that all of the characters that I played were going to see the show at one point or another. Now I can really relate to the fact the we were an easy target. Patriotic people who are used to following what our leaders said. I am a very patriotic person, brought up to respect authority. Both of my parents were public servants. My father an authority figure. I did what he said and never ask why. Our government told us we would be safe, and we believed them. I can imagine myself on test days sitting...

April Fossen's Most Memorable Plan-B Role

April Fossen has appeared in Plan-B’s Script-In-Hand Series, a slew of SLAMs, MIASMA, SHE WAS MY BROTHER and MESA VERDE. It’s difficult for me to write about playing the role of Tabitha in MESA VERDE by Matthew Ivan Bennett, because writing about it makes me realize that the role was (and clearly still is) too close. Playing Tabitha was powerful and all-encompassing and I had to force myself to leave her behind when the show closed so I could get on with the business of life. I lived inside Tabitha’s mind and emotional world for almost 5 years and as incredible of an experience as it was, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. I’m a big proponent of actors keeping a safe distance from their characters. I don’t believe in “method” acting and I try not to take characters home with me. I think the work belongs in the space and real life belongs everywhere else. But sometimes, there is so much of a character in you and so much of you in a character that the separation becomes impossible. I don’t know that I can describe how I feel I’m like Tabitha, or how she’s like me. There’s the obvious; I’m stubborn, I’d rather joke about something than have a deep discussion, I have in turns loved and hated my sisters, I can be distant if you push too hard… But that’s not the meat of it. The meat is something I can only describe by saying I FEEL her. Which is so touch-feely-actor-y it makes me squirm to even write it. But here’s the thing: that’s not...

Audience Comments: MESA VERDE

MESA VERDE continues through March 6 – click here for more information, including tickets (only about 70 remain for the run – act quickly)! Below are more comments emailed to us by those who’ve attended MESA VERDE thus far: DEBORA THREEDY This is an amazing show. It’s one of those rare shows where everyone involved has done excellent work. The script is emotionally rich and layered and note-perfect in the portrayal of its three female characters – as my friend said of the playwright, Matt Bennett: “He does good women.” The acting is superb, one of the tightest ensembles I’ve seen in quite awhile, not a false step anywhere. The director’s vision was spot-on, particularly the handling of that tricky Goddess character. And the technical elements provide a mystical, haunting, and evocative space for the story to unfold. Kudos to all. TERRI GOLDSTEIN I went in thinking that MESA VERDE was about cancer. But I was wrong. It is about relationships and healing. I don’t think I heard the word cancer mentioned more than once. MESA VERDE will bring light into your life, not the darkness that you might expect from the subject of cancer. VICKIE VENNE I was amazed by the verbal timing of the actors. The fast-paced, constant back-and-forth of the sisters made the experience so real. The emergency room scene after the broom handle fight was straight from my childhood – except it was a cut on the chin rather than a bloody nose! The kiva was a truly healing place for all last night. MARK FOSSEN MESA VERDE is a remarkable evening. Brilliant script, acting,...

Musings from the cast of MESA VERDE

APRIL FOSSEN (TABITHA) How do I write about an experience that I’ve waited almost 5 years to have? About a part that I feel was written for me? A part that was never ‘mine’, but I’ve always felt ownership of? **sigh* There’s a lot to say about this experience. But most of it is stuff I say to myself and won’t be of interest to anyone else. It is a rare privilege to be involved with MESA VERDE. It has been from the beginning. When we first read the 10-minute SLAM version of the play, we all knew we were holding something special in our hands. Something that was personal and raw and real. And as the play has grown over these years it has become more so. Strangely, the play has also become more personal and more real for me. I have watched my two daughters get 5 years older and develop singular personalities that are oh so different from each other. They bicker almost all the time now. The younger one is thrilled beyond words when the older one is affectionate toward her. I’ve watched it happen and felt powerless to influence it. Their relationship is theirs, there is nothing I or anyone else can do to make it any different. They will grow into it, and (I hope) it will get better as they become adults. In these years, I have struggled with my own variety of female problems (nothing akin to cancer) and seen how that changed me, how I related to people, how I dealt with life, how terrifying the threat of losing a...

Marcine Lake: When Real Life & Art Collide

How fititng that this post is on Valentine’s Day! Few people can say that they have battled cancer, and even fewer can say that someone wrote a play about it! MESA VERDE by Matthew Ivan Bennett is a story of my struggle with myself when I battled ovarian cancer. I always told Matt to write what he knows and would often find a funny line or situation from my real life appear in one of his scripts. In fact, I think most of Matt’s friends could say the same thing: “That character is totally me on paper.” or “Oh dude, I totally remember when that happened.” But nothing quite compares or prepares you for having one of the scariest and most intimate parts of your life set on stage for God and the whole world to see. And nothing can ever prepare you for the feeling of an audience crying and laughing at what is quite possibly the hardest part of your life. MESA VERDE sort of just happened; Matt never planned to write a story about my cancer. Matt wrote it for SLAM in 2006. It came to him as the title was assigned to him. It was short – just 10 minutes – and beautiful. Matt tried to prepare me for seeing it by casually saying, “It is ‘kind of’ about you.” ‘Kind of’ might have been a bit of an understatement. As I sat and watched my own personal, spiritual and philosophical inner struggle, portrayed simply and beautifully by 3 actresses, I was overcome with emotion and amazed at how much Matt had understood about my...

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